Is Porn Really a Threat to Public Health?

The war on porn has reached a fever pitch. Political elites, religious authorities, and a number of other public figures are coming out in ever larger numbers to warn us about the inherent dangers of pornography. Among other things, they claim that porn is "addictive," that it's causing men to commit rape and sexual assault, and that it's completely destroying our sex and love lives. In other words, they're pretty much arguing that porn is the cause of virtually all of the world's sexual problems. 

However, when you take a look at the research, what you see is that these claims just don't add up. I recently published an article over at VICE in which I analyzed the most common claims about the dangers of porn in light of scientific research. I encourage you to have a look. As you'll see, the science tells a very different and far more nuanced story, with porn only being linked to problems under a very narrow set of circumstances and for a relatively small number of people. 

It seems that online porn has become the go-to scapegoat for any and all sexual problems today, and I certainly understand why. For one thing, it's an easy target that has few defenders. Indeed, there's little--if any--glory to be had in defending porn (unless you count hate mail as glory). But for another, when people gang up on porn, they can shift all blame and personal responsibility for their sexual problems away from themselves. 

The end result of this is that blaming porn distracts us from the real issues that are hurting our sex lives and relationships, such as the fact that our system of sex education is abysmal and far too few of us know how to communicate effectively about sex. In other words, porn isn't the main problem--we are. 

The only way to solve a problem is to identify its cause. However, as long as we continue to ignore the real causes of our sexual problems and shift all of the blame to online pornography, things aren't going to get any better.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates. 

Image Source: 123RF.com/Pitor Pawinski

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